- Schools in the national capital will reopen for classes 9 to 12 from Monday.
- Many teachers and parents pointed out that the attendance was thin when schools were last reopened.
- DDMA on Friday decided to reopen higher education institutions and coaching centres.
Schools in the national capital will reopen for classes 9 to 12 from Monday after a spurt in COVID-19 cases had led to their closure in December, even as stakeholders debated the continuing of hybrid teaching and learning mode.
Many teachers and parents pointed out that the attendance was thin when schools were last reopened due to the online teaching option and it will be difficult to make up for the learning losses if physical classes are not completely resumed.
“It was high time that schools reopen but the way they have talked about running schools both online and offline, it would've been better if they would've done it all offline just like they did for colleges. Students were waiting eagerly," said RC Jain, President of Delhi State Public School's Management Association.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had on Friday decided to reopen higher education institutions and coaching centres along with schools for classes 9-12 from February 7. The panel also decided to resume classes from nursery to 8 from February 14.
“There will be no return to normalcy till there is an option of online classes. Online learning has saturated for children but since there is an option they or their parents prefer online. Attendance has been low when schools briefly reopened in previous months.
“Another issue is of transportation, since not many students turn up, running full-fledged transport services is not feasible and lack of transport discourages few from attending offline classes as its not logistically feasible,” said Ella Joshi, a teacher at a top private school.
Sudha Acharya, Chairperson of the National Progressive School Conference (NPSC) that has 122 Delhi schools as its members, said she was disappointed with the conditional school opening. "With parent consent & social distancing in place and option for the hybrid model of teaching-learning, we will never be able to bridge the gap in learning loss.
"In a situation when positivity rate has gone down below three percent there is no justification of conditional opening. Again schools will find it difficult to provide transport facility if only a few children avail on a staggered basis," he said.
While the Centre has dropped the mandatory parental consent for students to physically attend schools from its guidelines and left it to the states, the Delhi government has decided to continue with it. There is no cap of 50 percent student strength and the schools will be free to decide the proportion of students based on their infrastructure so that the Covid protocols are followed.
Anshu Mittal, Principal, MRG School, Rohini, said, "One of the most important aspects of school education is now going to be planning counselling sessions for both students and parents, as this transitioning lifestyle can get extremely perplexing most of the time."
To hold meaningful discussions is also important and it is preferred to make small groups of students for social interactions apart from the academics, he said. Schools in the city were briefly reopened before being closed again on December 28 last year in view of the third wave of COVID-19 driven by the Omicron variant.
The Centre on Thursday said the districts having less than five percent COVID-19 positivity rate can move in the direction of reopening schools but it is up to the state governments to take a call in this regard.
Noting that the pandemic situation has improved and there has been a consistent decline in new COVID-19 cases, NITI Aayog Member (Health) V K Paul had said "we have more confidence now to go in the direction of reopening schools".